In Holiday Guide

"Chronicles of Whitefish Bay" is an illustrated stroll through moments in the history of one of Milwaukee's inner 'burbs.

Wisconsin books make perfect gifts

Last year, there was a treasure trove of literature on Wisconsin history and themes around the holidays and this year, it seems, there's even more out there.

Here are a few nuggets that will please the Wisconsin-minded on your holiday gift-giving list. They should be available at your local bookshop:

"Chronicles of Whitefish Bay," edited by Thomas H. Fehring (The History Press), is an illustrated stroll through moments in the history of one of Milwaukee's inner 'burbs. From the 1862 "Indian Scare" to the 1899 disappearance of Frederick Isenring to the baby in the Milwaukee River, these quirky and interesting chronicles are told through text from speeches, oral histories and other sources.

If you want a copy of "A Journey Through the History of St. Paul's Church 1838 to 2013," written by Paul A. Haubrich, you'll have to stop over at the church on Marshall and Knapp to purchase a copy. But it's worth it. Haubrich's trip through 175 years of St. Paul's is a microcosm of Milwaukee history and it's well-written and heavily illustrated. Sales benefit the church's 175th anniversary fund.

One of my favorite books of the year is Michael Perry's "From the Top," a collection of essays he read aloud on the air of the syndicated "Tent Show Radio" program. Each is only a couple pages long – and some will be familiar to readers of Perry's longer-form work – but they are witty and insightful (he's groaning as he reads this, surely) slices of life from a farmstead in northwest Wisconsin that could be Anywhere, USA. Thoroughly entertaining stuff.

Barbara Ali has published "101 Things to Do in Milwaukee Parks: A Guide to the Green Spaces of Milwaukee." Covering everything from archery to bike polo to Civil War reenactments to pedal boats to sand sculptures to yoga, Ali's easy to navigate book can direct you to the perfect green space in Milwaukee for your chosen recreation.

Based on his acclaimed documentary on the same topic, Ron Faiola published a handsome hardcover called, "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience," this year. It's got great illustrations and guileless profiles of supper clubs and the folks that run them and enjoy them all across the state. Use it as a travel guide to experience these unique bites of Wisconsin for yourself.

Milwaukee's Charles Purpero has a novel, set here, called "29 Hours." Available from, it is the story of Charlie Weston, who goes to pay his taxes and finds himself face to face with terrorists and, soon, caught up in a conspiracy.

Hog enthusiasts can get the lowdown on life inside the motorcycle business in Robert Scot Michel's memoir, "Who Is the Real Hog?" Michel worked at Harley for 14 years and spent more years working at a dealership afterward, so he knows the ins and outs of the game.

Last, but certainly not least, Susan Apps-Bodilly takes a page from her dad Jerry Apps' book for her "One Room Schools: Stories from the Days of 1 Room, 1 Teacher, 8 Grades," published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press. This paperback is aimed at young readers and in a heavily illustrated format tells the story of Wisconsin's one-room schoolhouses and what it was like to attend them and teach in them. It's a great way to help kids understand what childhood was like in Wisconsin in "the good old days."

Since we're talking about Jerry Apps, I'm going to remind you that his slim hardcover, "The Quiet Season," published earlier this year by WHS Press is a rumination on winters in Wisconsin and it's a beautiful book with a warm heart and makes a perfect gift.

Also out this year and of interest are these books, which you can read more about at the links below:

Sandy D'Amato's "Good Stock."

Barbara Miner's "Lessons from the Heartland."

John Eastberg and Eric Vogel's "Layton's Legacy."

Peter Roller's "Milwaukee Garage Bands."

Jerome Pohlen's "Oddball Wisconsin: A Guide to 400 Really Strange Places."

Wayne Mutza's "The Flame Within."

There is a handful of other great 2013 Wisconsin books discussed here.

Also on interest are Dennis Pajot's "Building Milwaukee City Hall" and Gerard Helferich's "Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin." Stay tuned for full articles on each of those.


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